All Services Under One Cloud

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Seven Rules for Information Governance in the Cloud

A roadmap to information governance in the cloud.

Now that the cloud is upon us, it's time to address some of the more pertinent questions surrounding this new environment, namely, what do you want to do with it?

For many enterprises, the answer so far has been somewhat limited. Some have opened up new storage resources, others are running some productivity applications and performing other basic functions. But the real action won't happen unless and until we see wholesale infrastructure ported over to the cloud. Only then do we open up the possibility for things like massive scalability and regional, or even global, load balancing.

Companies actively promoting Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) say that future is already here, although some market analysts contend we're not quite there yet. Gartner, for one, doesn't see a truly robust cloud until the currently separate markets of Web hosting and IaaS converge. Once the "highly immature" IaaS market blends into the more reliable hosting market, we'll see a wide range of service offerings and infrastructure configurations that will provide a level of flexibility and customization that traditional bricks-and-mortar infrastructure can never hope to achieve. That process could take up to five years, however.

Still, it's important to remember that the cloud of today's dreams is not likely to be the cloud of tomorrow's reality. According to Lydia Leong, Gartner's resident cloud expert, don't expect a magical place where everything is available to everyone at any time with no strings attached. If you think about it, does anyone really want infrastructure services without contract stipulations or in-house management and security architectures?

There's also another merger of sorts that needs to take place for all this to come together, says CloudSwitch's John Considine. Only by combining IaaS and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) do you get the full flexibility of the cloud because now you've pushed both physical infrastructure and the system and application layers beyond the data center walls. Once you've transferred management of operating systems, core services and high-level application components to someone else, along with all that patching, updating and configuration, you can get down to the business of building the kind of infrastructure that can kick productivity into high gear.

No matter what you call it or how you describe it, none of these cloud/service predictions will come true without some good, old-fashioned changes to underlying physical infrastructure, according to 6fusion CEO John Cowan. To that end, he's pegged a number of items to watch over the coming year to gauge the technology's readiness, including whether big names like IBM, HP and Intel are taking this seriously. There may even be an opportunity for another hypervisor to draw cloud support. KVM anyone?

At this point, about the only definitive thing we can say about the cloud is that it will have a major disruptive effect on IT operations over the next decade. As scary as that may sound, rest assured: Nothing will happen unless it provides greater benefit, less cost or both.

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